Office of the Provost to restructure due to budget cuts
After months of planning, video-conferencing and interviewing, the nationwide search for a new associate provost of extended campus at Southeast Missouri State University has been called off due to recent budgetary cuts.
Provost Dr. Karl Kunkel said the decision to cut the position was necessary.
After Kunkel became the provost in February 2016, he said the news of the retirement of Dr. Gerald McDougall, late dean of the Harrison College of Business, and Dr. Allen Gathman, dean of Online Learning, came fairly quickly.
In order to cover the responsibilities both men were leaving behind, Kunkel decided to reorganize the provost's office to include two associate provost positions. The positions would have been the associate provost for academic effectiveness and student success, for which Dr. Bethany Alden-Rivers has been hired, and the associate provost for extended campus.
Kunkel said the work that would have fallen to the second associate provost will be absorbed by himself, the vice provost Dr. Charles D. McAllister, Alden-Rivers and other personnel as needed.
"I don't want to say we didn't need [the associate provost of extended campus position] or that this was superfluous because it was sorely needed, but you have to prioritize in times of budget cuts and that was the decision that was made," Kunkel said.
The search for the new associate provost began in the fall of 2016 and was conducted by a committee made up of several administrators and faculty members, including McAllister; Dr. Tamara Zellars Buck, professor in the department of mass media; Chelsea Caile, director of Southeast Online programs; and Marsha Blanchard, director of the Kennett Regional Campus. Applications for the position were taken from all over the country.
Kunkel said it was time to make a hiring decision between two candidates following their on-campus interviews before the decision was made to cut the position. The statewide budget cuts to higher education came at a time when the search had already been going strong for months. Kunkel said the timing was awkward.
"When you have budget cuts, you have to make certain adjustments and certain concessions and you have to just deal with the situation," Kunkel said. "When it comes down to it, you have to try to find money to equal the cuts that are going to be imposed, and you have to figure out what you can possibly live without."
Kunkel said the preservation of faculty lines, present faculty and staff positions and student worker and graduate assistant opportunities were very important to the university.
The Office of the Provost will not have as much ability to cover as many responsibilities without the second associate provost position, Kunkel said, but he is confident the administrators and faculty at Southeast are very capable of weathering the necessary changes that come with budgetary cuts.
"I'm hoping it won't affect students much on a day-to-day basis because the people that are really doing the day-to-day stuff are still going to be there," Kunkel said.